Foundation Skills / Emerging Literacy

If your school is a school involved in the Northern Alliance approach to emerging literacy, you can find all the resources here, or follow the links below:

These resources support Argyll and Bute’s own guidance on how we should approach literacy within P1 and beyond.

Foundation Skills

Throughout the year, alongside the teaching of phonics for reading and writing, every teacher should embed opportunities for pupils to further develop the following foundations of literacy:

  • Listening
  • Talking
  • Engaging with music, movement and memory
  • Engaging with stories
  • Concepts of print
  • Awareness of sounds
  • Physical readiness for writing

Extracts from the Teachers’ Toolkit relating to foundation skills can be found here:

Teachers’ Toolkit: Foundation Skills extract


Here are the presentations from Sue Palmer’s training day on 31st August 2017:

1. FoL and the evolutionary basis of literacy

2. Patterns and sounds


“Talking is an important precursor to writing. While writing is a mechanical skill, the desire to write comes from early verbal construction of stories. Talking does not need to have an artificial context; rather it should be encouraged through embedding opportunities for context related play into the day to day life of the classroom. ”

Pupils tell stories to each other based on puppets they’ve made at Port Charlotte primary

Top tips for developing talk poster


The Northern Alliance emerging literacy phonological screen tool and record sheet can be found here:

phonological awareness screening tool

phonological awareness picture book

gaelic screening tool

gaelic picture booklet

The tracker can be found here: phonological awareness tracker



It is important thart children develop their pre-handwriting skills in P1. The Northern Alliance developmental continuum can be found here:

pre handwriting developmental continuum

At the start of the year you can observe your pupils’ skills and record then using this pre-handwriting tracker. This can then be used to plan for activities in your classroom which develop skills according to your pupils’ individual developmental needs. Pre-handwriting skills should also be developed universally for all pupils.

Below are some documents to support you in your understanding of pre-handwriting skills and actitivites to support these:





As time goes on you can use the pencil control screen to reinforce your understanding of where your pupils are developmentally. This does not need to be done in its entirety in one sitting: for example it could be used to check development of one particular skill at a time.

pencil control skills screen

pencil control skills screen picture book

pencil control tracker